Renewable Houses SA

Affordable Housing, Skills and Resources for South Africa

Our Vision


Community Development

Bamboo is a labour intensive material and requires a mass labour force to be able to propagate, maintain, harvest, treat, craft and distribute. This means job creation. As the industry develops, value will be added to local communities through projects such as ablutions, schools, houses, and workshops aimed at skills development. Our vision is to build the future South Africa by cultivating the resources around us, whilst enabling the people around us.


Product Development

We want to make bamboo a mainstream construction material, through Agrément certification. The Agrément certification process recently made it possible to use Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEBs) in mainstream construction, which has in turn led to some landmark architecture in South Africa. Learning how to harness and use renewable resources makes it possible to combine earth and bamboo to create a resilient humanitarian infrastructure, as seen elsewhere in the world.


Ethics

Having to grow up, study and work in South Africa, we are vividly aware of the colonial and Apartheid history of this country. We recognise the fact that the non-educated black South African person has been, and continues to be exploited. As such we are developing The Bamboo Regional Hub, a place where generated resources will be injected back into the bamboo farming communities in the form of essential and non-essential services such as toilets, houses, schools & learning enviornments, mobile offices, public community spaces and gardens, and so forth. We will approach non profit organisations with similar objectives to ask for assistance in order to execute projects. We want to invest in, and strengthen our communities through this inclusive and dynamic business model.


Our Story

"Affordable housing, skills, and resources for South Africa"


Background

The founders of RHSA first met while studying at the UKZN School of Architecture in Durban, South Africa. In 2018, the novice architects formed RHSA on the premise that an inclusive and sustainable business can be built around the ecology of bamboo in its natural life cycle. There are vast amounts of unemployed youth who are more than willing to learn about bamboo and benefit financially from it too. If only we could tap into this resource and demonstrate a way forward.


Our Context

South Africa is quite a dry country, yet bamboos already exist in many areas, notably along the east coast where there are decent levels of rainfall. Different types of bamboos can be found in botanical gardens and public parks, but also along rail sidings, highways, farmland, industrial land, river banks and so on. Not all of these plants have been identified, as South Africa only has one truly indigenous species and one naturalized species of bamboo. South Africa is also home to many mines and mine dumps, and it is well documented that bamboo can be used in soil rehabilitation (phytoremediation).


South African Bamboo Culture

Unlike in other countries from South Asia, Indonesia and Latin America where availability and usage of bamboo are prolific, only a minority of people in South Africa use bamboo to its full potential. Our research and fieldwork suggest that the rate of adoption is low due to lack of knowledge about the many uses of bamboo, namely food, phytoremediation, and craft/construction. Barring traditional uses of bamboo in rural areas, we have seen that generally people have limited knowledge about how to treat, design and build with bamboo. Places with a rich bamboo history and culture have tried and tested methods and processes of working with bamboo, and so (with the help of NPO's) we are aiming to facilitate skills development workshops where the exchange of cultural knowledge can take place.